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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Challenges for Taliban Regime: Revival of ISKP in Afghanistan

ISKP is a province of the Islamic State’s Caliphate system according to Islamic State’s claim. Khorasan is a historical province of Afghanistan, which extend across Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province is a branch of the Islamic State, ISKP is operating in Central Asia and South Asia. These regions of the world are underdeveloped and suffering from economic and political uncertainty.

These kinds of areas are ideal targets for terrorists because human resources are easily available and weak government control. After the withdrawal of U.S. and Allied forces from Afghanistan, ISKP pose a serious threat to the Afghan Taliban regime.

Read more: US and Taliban to discuss release of Afghan funds

Emergence of ISKP

ISKP emerged in 2014, when different groups of TTP (Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan), Al-Qaeda, and Taliban fighters already operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Central Command of Islamic State sent fighters from Syria and Iraq to meet these defective terrorist groups to form a new alliance which was established with the help of commanders of TTP. In Jan 2015, Central Command Officially announce the formulation of ISKP and appointed Hafiz Khan Saeed as the first emir of ISKP. Hafiz Khan Saeed was the best choice for ISKP emir because previously he worked as a commander in TTP and has a stronghold in tribal areas of Pakistan, which can help ISKP to spread its influence across the border and to recruit through a deep Pakistan-centric network.

In 2015, ISKP starts its expansionist policy to achieve its objective, they started attacking Afghan Forces, Afghan Taliban, and Allied Forces in Afghanistan. Mullah Mansoor, leader of the Afghan Taliban at that time urged ISKP to work under the same umbrella because of the objective. As ISKP and Afghan Taliban claimed the same objective of “Sharia Law” and exit of Foreign Forces from Afghan Soul.

Afghan Taliban labeled ISKP as the Islamic State of Uzbekistan and a war of words started to recapture the areas from ISKP and degrade groups that were aligned with ISKP. In Quetta Shura leaders of the Afghan Taliban authorized to start offensive operations against ISKP to recapture areas and deployed the “Red Unit”, one of the most sophisticated units of Afghan Taliban against ISKP. In 2018, the Afghan Taliban defeated ISKP in the “Jowzjan” Province of Afghanistan and ISKP surrendered to the Taliban. However, the relationship between ISKP and the Afghan Taliban remains hostile because there were reports that the Haqqani group is supporting ISKP, and the commander of the Haqqani group coordinated with ISKP on several events.

Read more: UN says Taliban is disrupting humanitarian efforts

Ideology of ISKP

ISKP is a province of the Islamic State’s Caliphate system according to Islamic State’s claim. Khorasan is a historical province of Afghanistan, which extend across Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran. According to Islamic State’s perspective, they are working for the traditional Muslim rule “Caliphate”, and to spread it around the globe and govern through Islamic rules. Islamic State’s ideology is based on “baqiyawatatamaddad”, (remaining and expanding) which demands Muslims to migrate to those areas working under the Caliphate.

With reference to Islamic State’s ideology, the Caliphate will be a pure Islamic ruling society and members of that society will strictly follow the Islamic rules. In 2016, the Islamic State issued another Fatwa labeled “Aqidahwamanhaj al-dawlah Islamia fi al-Takfir” which means Islamic State creed and methodology of Takfir, according to the law/fatwa who so ever disobeys the Sharia Law will be considered as “Kafir” (Non-Muslim) and can be executed according to the law.

Islamic State is an offshoot of a terrorist organization “Al-Qaeda”, primarily their ideology is against the west, and they claim to launch jihad against non-Muslim countries on a global level. On the Secondary level, Islamic State remained involved in targeting “Shia Muslims”. ISKP also targeted the Hazara Shia community in Afghanistan.

ISKP is a subsequent branch of the Islamic State, so they also follow the guidelines and instructions provided by the central command. ISKP always criticizes the peace negotiation between the Afghan Taliban and the West. In March 2020, an Islamic State’s Newsletter al-Naba labeled Afghan Taliban as allies of the crusaders, because they are making peace deals.

Revival of ISKP

Islamic State remained involved in illegal activities, in their stronghold areas in Syria and Iraq. International Reports claimed that the Islamic State is involved in kidnapping, ransom, drug, and human trafficking, and selling Yazidi younger girls in Iraq. These businesses provide them with capital to run their organization and perform terrorist attacks. Afghanistan and the Central Asian States are ideal locations for these kinds of activities because no rule of law. These conditions will provide benefits to Islamic State.

Read more: India’s renewed engagement policy with Afghan Taliban

During the last three years, there were no significant or important activities claimed by ISKP. In 2019, the Islamic State announced the existence of another province in Pakistan and India. In 2020, the Islamic State appointed Al-Muhajir as Emir of ISKP. Although, ISKP claimed responsibility for two attacks during this time first in the Kabul maternity ward in May 2020, and in Nov 2020 they claimed responsibility for Kabul University Attack.

Recently, “The Khorasan Diary” a Twitter account claimed that ISKP announced to target worship places through an audio note in Afghanistan.


The Author has done his MPhil in Strategic Studies from National Defence University and worked as a Visiting Faculty member in the Department of International University, Muslim Youth University, Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.